This puzzle was originally published Saturday, May 16, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph
Today's puzzle had a bit of a split personality. I got off to a rapid start, making good progress through a series of fairly easy (and somewhat pedestrian) clues. However, about halfway through the puzzle, progress ground to a crawl. The remainder of the puzzle proved to be considerably more challenging - and interesting. I completed the puzzle; however, without fully understanding the wordplay for a couple of clues.
Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle
Acol - a bridge bidding system devised in Britain
d - (abbrev., lower case) in the UK prior to 1971, a penny or pence (from the Latin denarius)
hunter - (noun, defn. 2) a watch with a hinged cover protecting the glass
Mumbles - a village, with adjacent headland, in Swansea, Wales
naff - (adj., defn. 2) Brit. tasteless, vulgar
tosh - Brit. nonsense
try it on - (phrases) Brit. deliberately test someone's tolerance or attempt to deceive or seduce someone
As this was a Saturday prize puzzle in the UK, we have both day-of-publication hints from Gazza (sitting in for Big Dave), which may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25930] -Hints, as well as Peter Biddlecombe's post-submission-date review at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25930]-Review.
Commentary on Today's Puzzle
19a Be careful, hunter has sex appeal (5,2)
Before reading Peter Biddlecombe's review, I did not fully comprehend the wordplay in this clue, as it had slipped my mind that a "hunter" is a type of watch. Peter characterises this association as a crossword cliché - and (now that he mentions it) I must admit that I do recall having encountered it in a previous puzzle.
27a A fellow in Newfoundland who is vulgar (4)
This clue is rather dated, as the name of the province was officially changed in 2001 to Newfoundland and Labrador, resulting in the abbreviation being changed from NF to NL.
20d Attempt to do something risky - with a dress in a shop? (3,2,2)
This is another clue for which I did not fully comprehend the wordplay - even after reading Peter Biddlecombe's review. After some more research, I discovered that "try it on" is a British expression meaning "deliberately test or attempt to deceive or seduce someone" (Oxford) or "to attempt to deceive someone, or to test their patience or tolerance" (Chambers). According to Peter, we are to reuse the phrase "to do something risky" in both definitions (i.e., read the clue as "attempt to do something risky" and "to do something risky with a dress in a shop"). While I can see that an attempt to deceive or seduce someone might well be considered risky behaviour, I am not sure that I understand why trying on a dress would be (unless I were the one trying it on!).
Signing off for today - Falcon
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